Preview: After losing their previous Indian Premier League (IPL) clash by a whisker, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will aim to start off with a win against Rajasthan Royals (RR) in their new home ground - the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium on Friday.
After winning their first two matches, the Super Kings slumped to a defeat against Kings XI Punjab before bouncing back with a 64-run win over Rajasthan Royals on Friday on the back of smashing century (106 from 57 balls) from veteran Australian Shane Watson.
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In response, the Rajasthan Royals bundled up for just 140 runs in 18.3 overs.
Playing their first "home" game after matches were shifted out from Chennai, due to ongoing Cauvery protests, Watson, who was with the opponent franchise from 2008-2015, thrashed the Rajasthan bowlers all over the park as he helped to take Chennai into a dominant position right from the beginning. The rest of the bowlers were taken to the cleaners by Watson. "They bowled straighter, and those lines and lengths were hard to hit".
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Suresh Raina (46) made his return from a calf injury and formed part of an integral 81-run partnership with Watson, before being denied a fifty when Gowtham dived underneath his mistimed shot at deep midwicket. Rajasthan are struggling for consistency after two wins and three defeats from five. He hit nine fours and six sixes and almost batted through the innings, getting out off the penultimate ball to Ben Laughlin. "CSK at least 20 runs short so fancy us to get these & my man @IamSanjuSamson plus @benstokes38 to fire with the bat & get the boys home", said Warne. In came Raina and the left-hander creamed off four boundaries off Ben Stokes' over. It is also revealed that the CSK management is paying around Rs 50 lakh for every game to ferry around 1,000 fans from Chennai and will continue to do so for the rest of the five games in Pune.
There was no stopping Watson from the other end. Gopal though was doing a great job for his side as he stopped run flow by dismissing CSK captain MS Dhoni (5), who had enthralled his fans with a blistering fifty in the last match, and Sam Billings (3) in his successive overs.
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Watson has been in fine touch with both the bat and ball, thereby proving his utility as a top-class all-rounder.